Travel Plans 2010

Topping 2009 travel-wise is, well, pretty much impossible. At least at the moment, with our mortgage payments and book contracts and post-doc positions. It just ain’t going to happen. Sadly. But that doesn’t mean we’re not going to at least try to have a little adventure. There’s no way we’re going to pass the year without going somewhere we’ve never been before. That’s just plain unthinkable. I mean, seriously, the travel bug does not just disappear. Oh no, my friends. It infests. And multiplies. It simply can not be killed. Not that I’d want to kill it anyways. It’s no worm.

So though it’s plenty safe to say that our 2010 travel plans aren’t nearly as grand as our 2009 plans, I don’t think they’re at all shabby. And to say that I’m looking forward to them is like saying that Durham did a lousy job plowing the 7 inches of snow we got on Saturday. (In case you’re unclear, it’s a huge understatement.)

With 2010 now all the way in the door and not looking a bit like it plans to retreat, I think it’s safe to go ahead and unveil the plans. So without further ado, here’s what’s on tap for us.

The first trip of the year and the biggest is a 16-day trip to Colombia in March. As we traveled through South America in 2008-09, we kept hearing over and over that Colombia is the place to be. Rumors of its beauty, friendly people, and affordability barraged us. While in Ecuador, we pondered making the trip across the border, but we just didn’t have the time. I’ve been haunted ever since.

As for what we’re planning to do in Colombia, I’m not yet sure. All we know is that we land on the Caribbean coast and depart from Bogota. I’m definitely going to get a few dives in, and I want to enjoy the beaches of Parque Nacional Tayrona and the colonial ambiance of Cartegena, but beyond that I can’t choose. Do we take on San Gil, the adventure capital of Colombia? Do we spend a few days on a finca in the world capital of coffee? Do we taste city life in Medellin and Bogota? Do we jibe to the Afro-Caribbean Beat of Providencia? The only thing I know for sure is that we can’t really go wrong. But if you have some tips, we’re all ears.

The second trip we have planned is a domestic roadtrip that will take us from Chicago to Yellowstone and back in late May. We’ll be traveling with my brothers (or at least Gregory and Mark, as unfortunately last I heard Matthew doesn’t think he can make it), so it will certainly be full of funny moments. We plan to ditch the interstate system for the old highways and see what kind of nonsense we can find along the way. We’ll be taking a northern route there and a southern route back and should have time for the Badlands, the Black Hills, and other awesome scenery along the way. On a family roadtrip in 1993, my brothers and I covered much of the same ground, so it will be cool to see what we think 17 years later. And to find out if in 17 years the photos we take on this trip will be as embarrassing as the photos taken on that trip.

And well, that’s it for the year’s big trips. Apparently when people hire you around here they expect you to work. A lot. I can’t say I’m a fan. But I’ll survive, especially since we also have a slew of small trips thrown in to keep our cabin fever from turning into cabin swine flu.  We’ll be hitting up Bloomington in early May to watch my baby brother (that’s right Mark, I called you baby) graduate from Indiana University, and in August, we’ll be in the Seattle area for the marriage of Jeff’s sister. We’ll also get to say hello to Charleston, SC, when our friend Kristi says I do to our other friend Ziga (who we hear will be saying I do back).

And though I guess technically it’s work, I’ll be spending a lot of time exploring the Bluegrass State as I work on the Moon Kentucky guidebook. It’s a cool state, I tell you, and I’m going to be covering it top to bottom, inside and out. Diving into Appalachia has definitely got me excited. The culture completely intrigues me, and I have to admit that I really, really, really want to see a blue person.

Finally, we’ll be dedicating any free weekends we have to exploring our brand new home state. That is if they can figure out how to get the snow off the roads before, say, April. I definitely intend to make it to the beach a time or two…or three or four. And I’m committed to adding a few more miles to my Appalachian Trail in pieces project, with the 30-mile Art Loeb Trail in Pisgah National Forest looking like it might be my first NC leg.

You know, I think it just might end up being a pretty darn good year. I really do.

But gosh, enough about me, let’s hear about you. What’s on your travel calendar for 2010?

15 Replies to “Travel Plans 2010”

  1. Oh, and to answer your question, I was scaling down the travel a bit for the first half of 2010, not taking on any assignments, and somehow my schedule for the first few months already looks like this:

    January–Mammoth Mountain
    March–New Orleans, Tahoe, Rwanda
    April–South Africa, Kruger
    June–Borneo (Indonesia and Malaysia, maybe Brunei), Tennessee

    So yeah, so much for taking it easy, right? Especially as Africa and Borneo are both month-long trips!

  2. You’ll love Colombia – it’s awesome. Everything you mention was great – and here are some tips from my experience:

    – Parque Nacional Tayrona is spectacular, well worth a visit, and much nicer beaches than most of that coast. However give you only have 16 days, it maybe easier to go to Playa Blanca, on an island near Cartagena (as you’ll be seeing that too). If you do that – stay the night, as the vast majority of people just go for day trips.
    – Medellin is one of my favourite cities in Latin America. Bogota was one of my least. And virtually everyone in my hostel got mugged while they were there. If you want some big city fun, I’d go Medellin (or Cali, if you like salsa).
    – Hacienda Guayabal near Manizales is a fantastic coffee finca, really good tour available, and the food and accommodation is lovely too. Easily reachable from Medellin.
    – Villa de Leyva is a stunning colonial village, really well preserved, and makes a great stop to break the journey between Bogota and San Gil. Also, if you like colonial stuff, Barichara near to San Gil is lovely too.
    – Salento was a real favourite of mine – it’s a lovely small town in the coffee region, with tours available, plus the hike in the nearby Valle de Cocura is lovely (and not too demanding), and you get to see loads of hummingbirds and the world’s biggest palm trees.
    – Nightbuses between the caribbean coast and Medellin or Bogota always have the aircon turned to ‘arctic’. And they won’t turn it down. Pack warm clothes!

    Hope you have a great time – and let me know if you have any questions

  3. Thanks Geoff for the insights into Colombia. Very helpful! Now just to make decisions about what we can and can’t manage to fit into our trip.
    Kristin, I’m jealous! I love, love, love Africa, and I was sad that we didn’t fit Rwanda into our trip. We were so close when we were in Uganda but just didn’t have the time. I can’t wait to read about it on your blog. And I hope you’re planning to dive Sipadan when you’re on Borneo. It was all booked up when we were there but everyone we talked to said it was simply phenomenal.

  4. I’m surprising my bf with a trip to the Corn Islands (Nicaragua) over Memorial Day weekend. I also just signed up for a Habitat for Humanity build in Kunming, China and if I can negotiate the time off, I’ll be in Egypt for two weeks with my belly dancing teacher. Pretty much the only good thing about the recession is that traveling seems to have returned to 2002 prices!

  5. Like you – nothing can compare to the 2008-09 travels – and I also have cabin swine flu, badly!!!

    The only trips we have planned is for our wedding in Moab, Utah in June – and then a honeymoon sometime in the fall. We’re thinking either Papua New Guinea, Galapagos Islands, or the Socorro Islands (or anywhere with amazing scuba diving!)

    Probably head to a few more weddings – and definitely making a trip up to DC.

    You guys should check out the Brewgrass Festival next year in Asheville, NC. We always come up from Charlotte for it! Tickets go on sale in the spring – and it always sells out quick. Plus, we could finally meet! 🙂

  6. Colombia is fantastic! We spent 6 weeks there studying Spanish at the end of our RTW trip a few years ago. We spent most of that time in Bogota, then traveled around a bit the last 2 weeks. The people we met in Colombia were some of the nicest of our entire trip.

    I loved Bogota. So much so that my husband and I would consider moving there. I know it can be dangerous, but we never experienced any problems in our month there. We stayed in the Candelaria area (Hotel Internacional and Platypus Hostel) and spent a fair amount of time in the Zona Rosa and Parque 93 area. There aren’t that many touristy sites in Bogota, but there are lots of lovely parks and the city just has a nice vibe. People are friendly and open. We made lots of friends there and just had a marvelous time. However, it’s not really a “must see” as far as cities go. If you do go there, make sure to take time to walk the streets of Candelaria, take the cable car up to cerro de monserrate, go to some of the parks & museums in town. The salt cathedral in Zipaquira, outside of Bogota, is worth a visit. Try to go to Bogota on a weekend so you can go to Andres Carne de Res in Chia on Saturday night (one of the coolest restaurants I have ever been to), then take part in the Ciclovia (all major streets in town are closed off to traffic and taken over by bicyclists and rollerbladers) on Sunday. Bogota is fairly cold year-round (& can be quite wet) so bring warmer clothes.

    Parque Tayrona is one of my favorite places in the entire world. Fantastic beaches (the further you go, the fewer people there are; we had the entire beach to ourselves several times), and I love the setup, the hammocks, the hike to El Pueblito, and the general atmosphere. The 3rd (last) beach setup is the best. We went 4 years ago, and it wasn’t very well known to foreigners then (there were mostly Colombian tourists). You had to hike in and it sort of felt like discovering The Beach (a la Alex Garland), a secret secluded wonderland full of fun mellow people. On the other hand, I kind of remember that you guys aren’t really into the relaxing thing (do I correctly recall that you were not fans of Buckaneers in Cintsa? Craziness!). 🙂 If that’s the case, you might not be as enamored with the place. I’m not a huge beach person, but I do like a few days of relaxing in a hammock with a good book, and that’s what Tayrona is all about. If that’s not your cup of tea, it may not be worth it since you don’t have that much time in the country and it is a little out of the way. If you do go out there, Taganga is a nice fishing village with decent scuba diving not far from Tayrona (you can rent boats to get from Taganga to Tayrona). Not a must see, but much nicer than Santa Marta.

    Cartagena is beautiful. The Rumba en Chivas party bus is so touristy, but is actually a really good time if you let yourself just get carried about by the outrageousness of it (and drink enough). The mud volcano outside of town is a lot of fun.

    I liked San Gil a lot. It’s small & manageable, and there aren’t many tourists. We went rapelling, kayaking, and paragliding there (also went paragliding in Barichara). The paragliding was fantastic, definitely worth it. We rented a motorcycle and had a great time exploring some of the little towns nearby.

    I wasn’t a huge fan of Cali. But we only had 2 days there, so it’s hard to get much of an impression in that time. I really regret that we didn’t make it to Medellin, as we heard really great things about it. Same is true of the coffee region and the Amazon. There’s so much we didn’t get to do in Colombia. We really want to go back. Have fun!

  7. Cindi–The Brewgrass Festival sounds fun. I’ll have to check it out. It would definitely be fun to meet up there!
    Marina–Thanks for all the details! I’m so excited. When we were talking about Colombia, I thought about you guys. I think you were one of the very first people to encourage us to go there. And yeah, you’re right, we’re not all that great at relaxing, but life has been so crazy lately that we might just be up for it. And it’s not that we didn’t like Buckaneers in Cintsa; it’s that we had rainy weather while we were there so we left to head inland where it was sunny. I think we’ll probably give Tayrona a try.

  8. I’ll be in Minneapolis May 28-31. I start teaching June 1. I have rescheduled jury duty May 10th. I’ll also have 4 months of dissertation research to deal with. So, unfortunately, I doubt I’ll be joining you guys.

    On a side note, have you ever pondered the possible danger of positing travel plans on your blog, you know, like I just did (above)?

  9. 16 days! I’m jealous. The most I could work in was 6 days, also in March. We’ll be in Bogota March 3, Cartagena March 4-6 and then Medellin the 7th and 8th.

  10. We will be finishing up the last 2/3rd of our RTW trip with Southeast Asia, Bhutan, China, Japan, Australia & New Zealand to name a few.

    BTW what is the news on the book deal? Did I miss a post where you dealt with this already? Thanks for the update.

  11. Sounds like awesome plans. I’ll be heading to the Balkan states>South America (looking like Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil) then to Nicaragua>US>Portugal>Turkey>Cyprus in September. Something along those lines, I tend to peg down my definite plans much closer to departure!

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